Tuesday, November 5, 2013

INDIA : Mangalyaan Blasts Off To Mars

Wow!!! Mangalyaan, the spacecraft on a voyage to Mars has been successfully blasted off.  Superb.  Hoping to see spectacular and ground breaking results from the ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission

Pictures from ISRO

Monday, November 4, 2013

Google honors Shakuntala Devi with a doodle

How long will it take to multiply these two numbers ?

7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779

It just took 28 seconds for Shakuntala Devi and earned her a record in the Guinness Book Of Records.  A child prodigy with unbelievable power to calculate will remain an inspiration to so many.  She died earlier this year.

Google’s doodle today honors Shakuntala Devi, known to the world as the ‘Human Computer’, on her 84th birthday.



Race to Mars : Tomorrow is a BIG day for India

Mangalyaan, the aptly named spacecraft will take off on Tuesday on a 11 month voyage to Mars, from Sriharikota. No matter what happens tomorrow, it will remain a big day for India.

Image Source : BBC

Hope and wish for a very successful launch and fruitful voyage.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Infosys to pay $34 million in fines for visa fraud

Latest news reports confirm that Infosys has reached a settlement to pay $34 million in fines for visa fraud, for bringing in developers on B1 visas to work and other irregularities in keeping accurate I-9s.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dumping Vonage For Good

If you already have Vonage or planning on signing up, you may be better off dumping it as there are now much better alternatives. Read on.

Vonage was touted as a pioneer for commercial VOIP phone service back in 2005 when I first signed up for the service.  The excitement of a killer and industry disrupting VOIP service evaporated very soon. The  quality never measured up to the ‘carrier’ quality. I disconnected in a couple of months due to voice quality issues. And what happened when I tried to disconnect was yet another totally frustrating customer service story, “Vonage – expecting good customer service is stupid”.

When Vonage announced unlimited international calling to India (and few other select countries), I hesitated due to my earlier experience. A few months later, we needed a landline phone and I did little research to shop for a better one. At that time, Vonage proved to be a better option for a landline phone that would also double to be able to call anybody in India, despite its voice quality issues and poor customer service.

That was little more than 5 years ago, when most people in India (particularly my friends and family) can be reached only on their phones and internet access at homes was still a rare and privilege in many areas. Things have been changing quite fast in India these days, particularly in terms of communication and access. Almost everybody that I knew have a cell phone now and family and friends have internet access at a reasonable price and connections are quite capable of watching YouTube videos and supporting video chats.

Skype, my new best friend to stay connected, always and anywhere

That means, time has come to fully leverage my favorite, Skype, that I have been using for a really long time to stay connected with my friends. Skype supports instant messaging, video calls, voice calls,  can take with you anywhere in the world and can instantly connect with your friends and family anywhere in the world for FREE. Along with friends and family on Skype, you can call any toll free number in the US  for FREE.  With a better internet access in India, Skype became my best option to stay connected to all family and friends in India and anywhere in the world for that matter.

Calls to India to any number are about 1c/minute

Skype does offer calling plans so that you can call those that do not have internet access or need to reach somebody on their phones, for a price close to 1c per minute. So you are in full control to purchase a subscription that will suit your needs. These days, I use Skype to reach most of my family and friends, I just use a $1.50/month subscription that will give me 2 and half hours of talk time per month.

Unlimited calling to US/Canada for just $2.99/month

And just for $2.99 a month, you will get unlimited calling to any number in US/Canada. Skype does have unlimited international calling for about $13, but India is not in the list.

For about $5 a month, you can also get a Skype number so that anybody in the world can call you on that number from their phones and you can take the call on your Skype (on your Smart phone, iPad or any computer). Best part of this feature is you can get a local number in a country of your choosing.

Replace Vonage @ $40 a month with Skype @ just $6 a month

Needless to repeat, Skype works the best for me. It offers much greater voice quality. Instant messaging, video calls, can take any where  in the world on my smartphone or iPad and use on my PC and reach anywhere in the world. For under $6 a month, I have effectively replaced my Vonage phone that costs me close to $40 a month ($25.99 + taxes).

Give it a try. For most people, this should work just fine. For those, who talk on and on to regular phones to India, you may have to still suck up the lower quality voice and stay with Vonage for the unlimited calling, but for the rest, its time to dump it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

China, The Largest Living Success Story of Communism

By all measures, the rise of China as one of the leading global economic power houses of the world is a great success story.  And by all estimates, China will become the largest economy sooner than the rest of the world is comfortable accepting it. So, isn’t China, then officially the largest living success stories of communism?

Watch this great TED talk by Eric Li, a venture capitalist, I bet,  your understanding of China will never be the same. And so does your understanding of efficacy of democracy.

Eric X. Li : A tale of two political systems

I can’t resist the temptation of comparing the largest living democracy, India,  with tens of parties at the helm and the largest living communist country, China, and for all practical purposes a dual party system in the US and its current political gridlock, only to realize that the point Eric Li made is quite reverberating.

Unfortunately, while China can easily replicate the best of the rest of the world in terms of  technology, systems and innovation, it is probably next to impossible to replicate the best of China’s political system.  What an edge.

One of the best talks and an idea really worth spreading.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lessons From A Plate of Upma

I am not a big fan of Upma. Never really liked it so much, though I eat when I have to. But somehow my 3 year old loves it. If you ask what she prefer for a breakfast on the bed, she always says Upma. And it goes without saying, she gets it.

So today is one of those days. It’s the second time I prepared it in the last few days, and oh boy! I nailed it today. It was awesome. Even I really liked it myself and my daughter loved it so much she comeback for seconds. Yahoooooo !!

While preparing I was wondering, what most people that cook in the family go through Smile, to prepare something that you don’t necessarily like, but you do it anyways because others love it.  Hats off to you all. 
Am I getting my first lesson in what matters when you care? Hmm, that may sound little heavy on the breakfast table, but I guess I made my point.  Have a nice day.

Beautiful Godavari Rail Road Bridge

Beautiful sight of Godavari rail road brdige.
Godavari Rail Road Bridge
via 92229232@N02@Flickr

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cooking looks like an unforgiving art

When you are writing software, you always get a second chance. In fact, lots of chances to get it correct. You have compiler warnings, failed test cases and some times crashes alert you that something is not right and will give you a chance to correct. And you get literally unlimited chances to apply those corrections. 

Well, cooking looks to be totally unforgiving in this respect and on any given day, you may get just one chance to get it right. If you fail, you fail. Try again right away if you have patience of starting it all over. Or start over some time later or next day. But not much of a second chance to correct a mistake. 

More ruthless, when it comes to salt. If you put just a little more, even a tiny little more, it never hesitate to show what it got. Totally ruthless. End result will be a failed dish that no one will be able (and/or happy) to eat. And most dishes, you may not be able to add something little more to offset it.

Little trick I learned the hard way, start on the conservative side and go easy on salt. You may get a second chance to adjust later if you fall short of the perfect dish.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 : Disappointing UI

What happened to Microsoft’s usability team? The color choices, particularly the single glaring white background everywhere make it appear as one giant screen instead of meaningful sections on the screen. Why dumb down so much in terms of user experience? No more round edges, gradients, shadows, contrasting backgrounds or easy on eyes highlighting. 

I am not a designer, but I see an UI element communicate by its color, shape, position, contrast, focus and of course text. The new UI in 2013 definitely eliminated some of those attributes for some elements.

word2010vs2013Word 2010 vs. Word 2013

So far, the only big difference I see is the integration of SkyDrive so that documents can be readily saved in to the cloud and retrieved any where.  At another level, going towards subscriptions could be a game changer for Microsoft.

But when it comes to the UI, I find it boring and am little disappointed.

NDTV.com : Fact or Allegation ? Just another twisted title for sensationalism

This is yet another example of NDTV.com’s sensationalism twisted titles. The title says, as if this was a fact, woman made to urinate in pub...